Monday, November 2, 2009

Working the System

I worked for a non-profit business where we saw many atrocities during the holiday season. Our company gave toys to needy local children. We were shocked at how many tried to get more than their share during the event. We wanted to offer iPods to teenagers, but previous years had taught us that parents of small children were choosing the iPods for themselves instead of choosing age-appropriate toys and books for their children. Also, mothers, fathers, and grandfathers were registering the same child to get three times the amount of gifts. Or people were driving to the event in brand new Hummers with custom rims, doubtless bought by illegal means while collecting food stamps and taking full advantage of housing.
One of my coworkers commented, "If people would work half as hard at finding a job as they do jumping through government hoops for assistance, they’d be rich."
I knew one woman who was trying to get custody of an 8 year old girl that her husband had fathered in his youth. I wondered why they would pursue this so seriously since they had 2 children of their own and relied heavily on government assistance, so I asked about the girl’s situation. She apparently had had no significant contact with her father and was being raised by two loving grandparents. Well, why would they take her from a comfortable lifestyle to live in their cramped apartment in the projects amid constant domestic drama? The answer was appalling: "Because if we have 3 or 4 children, the housing authority will put us in a home outside of the projects, and since my last miscarriage, we’ve given up on having more children of our own. That is why we have to get custody of his daughter." That may be the most selfish thing ever uttered from a human’s mouth, but she said it as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She even wondered how my husband and I are able to afford to live and pay our taxes without the earned income credit. My answer was that we could never afford to raise children on our income, but she insisted that if you know how to work the system, you can have everything. So, food stamps and the projects are the American Dream, huh?
When I was in the fourth grade, my father was laid off. He was very proud and had made a good living (although he drank enough to make us poor). He did not want to accept help, but my mother helped him to see that providing for his family now meant that he must apply for LEAP and food stamps, etc. As children, it was no shame to us to get government cheese and butter. We were glad to have it, but when we no longer needed a handout, we did not seek ways to prolong the mercy that had been extended to us. There’s no sense in watching your family starve because you are too proud to stand in a line. But the truly grateful will move on allowing those with a current need their turn for relief.
I knew a woman in very poor health who did not like to use the motorized shopping cart at Walmart because she might see someone with an even more pressing need for a motorized cart struggling to shop. I wish everyone could be as considerate of others.

1 comment:

  1. I just want to say how right you are .I also love your wrighting .Your work is outstanding.!!!!You go girl.


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